A friend recently asked me about the difference between Truvia and stevia.
Truvia is a branded, processed sugar substitute consisting partly of stevia extract and mainly of erythritol, a natural sugar alcohol that is almost non-caloric, does not affect blood sugar, does not cause tooth decay, and, in regular use (i.e., not extreme quantities), does not cause side effects.
Stevia is a plant; its leaves, the aqueous extract of the leaves, and purified steviosides are used as sweeteners. It is mostly just sweet but has a tinge of a licorice flavor. Stevia has a negligible effect on blood glucose and may even enhance glucose tolerance. Powdered, crystallized, and aqueous stevia can be purchased in natural foods stores.
Cutting the calories in your diet that come from sugars — everything from processed white sugar to the simple starches and carbohydrates that naturally occur in fruits and white flour — has multiple benefits. You will reduce your propensity towards insulin resistance and thereby cut your diabetes risk, lower inflammation caused by insulin spiking in the blood, lower fat storage and even lower LDL or "bad" cholesterol.
But it is not as simple as replacing the white sugar you use in your tea/coffee with Truvia or stevia. It's about reducing your overall intake of simple carbohydrates. To accomplish that, you should stay away from foods with a high glycemic load, such as sugar, white starches (white rice, white bread, potatoes), fruit juices and purees and juices from sugary vegetables like carrots and beets; even many alcoholic drinks are high in sugar. Eat instead: whole grains (brown rice, steel cut oats, buckwheat, flax flour, whole grain pasta), whole fruit in place of juice, whole vegetables.
Most people find they feel much better — have more energy, feel less tired — when they cut simple carbs out. After you flood your bloodstream with glucose, insulin spikes to take it out, and then you feel hypoglycemic and like eating something starchy again; it's exhausting, a vicious cycle, and over time very damaging to the circulatory system and linked to chronic
disease. Complex carbs release glucose into the bloodstream much more slowly.
Going further: My brother also believes that, because there is a natural insulin spike at the beginning of the day, people should take advantage of that and have all of their carbs prior to 2pm and try to eat nothing during the 2 hours before you go to sleep. So he has steel cut oatmeal for breakfast, a sandwich on whole grain bread for lunch, things like that, and he tends to load up on proteins like fish or lentils for dinner accompanied by raw or lightly cooked vegetables (i.e., no more rice at dinnertime for him). This seems to be working for him.